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He's going the distance

HILLSDALE - If you see this young man running around Council Crest or along Terwilliger Boulevard, cheer him on.

Marc Wasserman is training for his first marathon at age 18. The quiet and calm Wilson High School senior says it was something he knew he wanted to do some day, so why not now?

He first seriously considered the idea during a college admissions interview. His background in cross-country and track and field prompted the interviewer to ask if he had ever run a marathon.

No, he said, but he'd like to one day.

When he returned home, he realized that now was as good a time as any. He sought out a family friend who ran marathons and asked him how to train.

Every week since January, Wasserman has pushed himself just a little bit farther. He is now up to 22 miles and hopes to be in good shape for the 26.2-mile race along the Willamette River.

'There's something about running,' he said. 'It makes you feel good about yourself.'

Wasserman has never won a race in his running career, but he doesn't let that dissuade him. He enjoys running anyway and has set his sights on something few high school students attempt, let alone complete.

'It seemed like this unreachable goal, but I really could get there,' he said.

Wasserman's goal is to finish the race in four hours - a reasonable time for recreational runners, but a laudable feat nonetheless.

WHS cross-country coach Dell Gerber said he's had a few students who have tried to run marathons, but they probably weren't as prepared.

'It takes a lot out of you to run a marathon,' Gerber said. 'It lets you find out what your limits are and if you have the mental and physical endurance to do it.'

For now, Wasserman said he is already pleased with his progress this far.

'When I started, I probably would have dropped dead after 10 or 12 miles,' he said. 'I never thought I would be able to run that far.'

It takes a lot of willpower, but running also serves as a stress reliever, he said. And he needs it. The straight-A student takes four advanced classes, plays on the All-City Marching Band, volunteers with Students for Environmental Action, takes Hebrew at Neveh Shalom and umpires for Little League baseball.

After all that, running for several straight hours can be surprisingly restorative.

'Relaxing is not the right word, but it approaches it,' Wasserman said with a smile.

And though he knows that his muscles will start screaming through that meditative state at some point in the race, he's still set on his goal of completing that crowning achievement of distance running.

'It still doesn't exactly feel real,' he said. 'But I know I can do it.'